Interestingly, Don Strobel's company, which focuses on historic and high-end renovations in St. Petersburg, Fla., uses 21st-century marketing tactics, in particular a sleek Web site.

Photo: Ryan Morris/WpN In conjunction with Strobel Design Build's marketing strategy, Strobel (Big50 1999) decided to ratchet up the Web site. “We want to make a good first impression, and these days the way people shop is on the Web,” he says. “Also, we work with a lot of out-of-town clients. The Internet helps them keep tabs on projects and communicate in general.”

Instead of hiring a Web designer, Strobel chose the graphic design firm Cherry and Associates Design, in Seminole, Fla., to lay out the site. “Sometimes Web designers overload a site and it's not clean; they may not have the good design practices of those who know design,” he says.

About 60% of the photographs are taken by a professional photographer. Strobel amortizes the cost by using the photos for leave-behinds, out-of-town owner documents, and direct-mail postcards. All materials drive people to the Web site.

“Recently we spent about $10,000 [which included concept, design, art, printing, postage, and mailing-list purchases] and got a half-million-dollar job out of [direct-mail postcards] in a new area,” he says. After mailing 15,000 cards in batches of 4,500, Strobel had 1,000 cards remaining. With the leftovers, he'll “do a ZIP code search and cross reference the streets and do a large mailing near any job,” he says. “There's a shelf-life on the campaign so I've got another planned for this year with three new pictures. We'll time it so the mailing goes out the same time the media publishes the NARI [Contractor of the Year] award winners.”

The Web site conveys the story of Strobel Design Build. “The site is easy to work with and designed well because that's what we sell. We're able to link who we are with what we're presenting,” says Strobel, who uses an outside firm for Web maintenance. His IT-savvy general manager tracks site hits. Future goals: password-assigned client pages, customer testimonials, and a decreased paper trail.